Jeanne Wagner Theatre
I’ll be honest here—I wasn’t expecting much from the Student Slam. With only 24 hours to write, produce and perform a play, I didn’t have very high hopes for the results. I was shortly proven wrong.
Each play was written by professional playwrights, each who volunteered their time to make this production happen. Every writer was given four photographs to inspire and guide their play. At least three of the four photographs had to be displayed on stage during the performance. Some writers followed the story of the pictures closely while others ran with their own ideas, largely ignoring the photos’ story. The writers were given 12 hours to create their plays. After that, they turned them over to the directors and actors to do the rest of the work.
The actors were chosen from an open casting call for performers between the ages of 16 and 21. The stage was brimming with young and developing talent. For the most part, each actor embodied their character with a unique personality. It’s difficult to develop a personality in only one act but these kids did an amazing job. Their excitement to be involved in such a project really shined through in their performances.
Although each play was written and directed by adults, they all had prominent themes of what it is like to be a teenager. Lost and Found dealt with the first big death in a young person’s life and how it can tear people apart from each other. Burned Into Me was about those moments we all experience as teenagers that define who we become as adults. Tightrope Ridge was about finding out who we really are, amidst all of the material possessions that have become the lives of teenagers these days. Where Do We Go From Here? found a group of teenagers lost and bickering in the desert who discover that maybe it is the journey, not the destination, that is truly important. We Were All Beautiful Once dealt with the hardships of the inevitable distance that grows between siblings as they become adults. The relevance of the plays to the actors’ lives allowed them to personify their characters in a way that brought a fresh face to themes that might otherwise be played out.
Watching each play, I remembered my own teenage years. I imagine the rest of the audience was right there along with me. The whole production was not only relatable to teenagers, but the themes carried across to adults as well. We will surely be seeing great things from this group of young people in the future. If you haven’t seen the Student Slam before, I definitely recommend checking it out next year. If you have seen it, you already know what I’m talking about.